Frank Ocean is an elusive wizard, a man who speaks publicly so rarely that every stray utterance becomes a news story. And when he does speak publicly, he doesn’t tend to say too much, leaving us to pick through the effluvia. But every once in a while, he comes out and says something revealing. There’s a bit of that in the latest Frank Ocean interview.
Ocean has done a new interview for Dazed, but it’s not a standard Q&A. Instead, a fascinating and random selection of musicians and luminaries — Rosalía, John Waters, Arca, Big Freedia, Matt Ox, plenty of others — have sent in questions, and Ocean has sent back his written replies. Most of these questions are fairly anodyne, but some go a bit deeper. There is, for instance, a moment where JPEGMAFIA asks Ocean about the 2016 moment where Ocean finished up his Def Jam contract, releasing the visual album Endless and then almost immediately self-releasing his Blonde album. Ocean admits to feeling “euphoria” once both albums were out and he was free of the label:
JPEGMAFIA: How did it feel fucking over a label like that? Old white niggas do that to us all the time, but how did it feel giving them a taste of their own elixir? And what did you build in the video for Endless? Can I live in it?
Frank Ocean: Eyy, Peggy! You know, it’s funny talking about it these days because I couldn’t really tell anybody anything for a couple of years. Couldn’t tell anyone at the label, obviously. But I also couldn’t talk with anyone at Apple because the industry is too small and it would’ve gotten back to the label for sure. So I kept it to myself and a few in my circle. I carried my hard drives around with me when I travelled because I used to not store anything online. Those drives became a physical representation of the stakes. If the files had leaked, everything would have worked out very differently for me. When August came around and both projects were uploaded I felt the euphoria, yeah, but mostly I just needed to sleep. I probably slept something like 15 hours. To answer your second question, I built a 12-foot staircase with my fucking bare hands some days before! It’s in my storage, you want it??
Meanwhile, Nile Rodgers presses Ocean on when his 2012 album Channel Orange is coming out on vinyl — a question that’s bothered fans for years — and Ocean simply says “ASAP.” Check out some other highlights below:
Arca: Are there any similarities or differences between Frank and Christopher? Do you have any other names or nicknames you like to go by that you wanna share? Kiss on your forehead byeee
Frank Ocean: Christopher is a triangle wave. Frank is a pulse wave. I’m a little synthesiser. Xo
Billy Porter: How are you navigating being queer in the music business? Do you feel marginalised? If so, why do you think this is the case?
Frank Ocean: I navigate it pretty smooth so far. If anything my personal life needs the GPS sometimes.
Rosalía: Do you feel that you belong to this world and time?
Frank Ocean: Yes, very much so. But I also sense I could have just as easily happened to be at any point in history.
John Waters: Any movie you wished you wrote the title song for?
Frank Ocean: Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence.
Big Freedia: Is there a person in your childhood who helped you become who you are today?
Frank Ocean: Jheri Roscoe is one. She passed away but she was one of my mom’s close friends. Really sweet woman. I used to call her on the house phone when I was, like, ten or 11 and sing her the songs I came up with. She encouraged me to keep going and made me feel like I had something special, which I think everyone needs at one point or another. She also put me on to Prince for the first time.
You can read the full interview here.